Siemens Teams Up With VoIP provider Skype
VoIP provider Skype has teamed up with Siemens Communications to offer cordless phones in a move that gives Skype users the ability to drop their headsets and use Siemens phones for free Web telephoning.
The Siemens-Skype configuration includes a Gigaset M34 USB adapter that can be plugged into the USB connector on PCs. It will retail from between $100 and $129 in Europe. In turn, different models from Siemens line of DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications) phones are linked to the Gigaset M34. The European standard DECT cordless phones range in price from about $50 to $200.
"You no longer have to be tethered to your computer," said Skype spokeswoman Kelly Larabee. The Siemens phones went on sale Wednesday in Europe, she said.
Spokespersons at both Skype and Siemens said there are no immediate plans to market the connector and phones in North America. However, Larabee noted that Skype's formal release Tuesday of its API (application program interface) could facilitate the development of similar cordless telephone configurations anywhere in the world.
Skype has more than 14.5 million subscribers " typically more than 750,000 are on line at any given time " but some users and prospective users have balked at using the service because it requires the use of headsets for optimum performance. The new Siemens phones will remove that major hurdle.
Most Skype users can only communicate with other Skype users with the attraction being that the service is free in those cases. Another Skype service called SkypeOut enables users to call from their Skype base to non-Skype telephone subscribers for slightly more than two-cents a minute virtually anywhere in the world.
Siemens has been working for a few months with Skype on the products announced Wednesday. The official API beta is available to both commercial and non-commercial partners alike. Non-commercial users will be able to develop API-based applications without charge while the company said it will negotiate with commercial partners on an individual basis on their projects.
A Siemens spokeswoman said the cordless configurations are being offered in Germany and became operative when Skype software went live Wednesday. The configurations will be offered "from December onwards throughout Europe," she added. The other European companies where the Siemens products will be offered include Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland.
The adapter works with Siemens Gigaset C340/345, Gigaset CX340/345isdn, Gigaset S440/445, Gigaset SX440/445isdn, Gigaset S645 and Gigaset SL440. All DECT models were unveiled recently, the firm said.
The announcement of the Siemens products was made by Niklas Zennstrom, Skype CEO and founder, and Paul Reitmeier, president of Siemens Customer Premises Equipment Devices.
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